ShoBox super middle tournament to conclude on Jan. 5


ShoBox super middle tournament to conclude on Jan. 5

Its Mendy vs. Hanshaw in the finals

Press Release: The ShoBox super middleweight tournament will conclude with its championship bout when Jean Paul Mendy faces Tony Hanshaw on Friday, Jan. 5, 2007, on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). Mendy and Hanshaw were in a tourney that offered two boxers in an international field of eight the opportunity to appear on national television three times in six months. They were the co-favorites and backed it up by becoming decisive winners in both their bouts. Each was triumphant by early-round knockout and lopsided decision. So, who is going to win a tournament designed to produce a 168-pounder that should wind up in the division’s upper echelon? The Frenchman, Mendy, or the American, Hanshaw?  
On paper, the boxers are difficult to separate. Both had impeccable amateur credentials and are unbeaten as professionals. Each can box, but owns enough power to warrant the other’s respect.
“I have always liked the concept of tournament boxing,’’ said columnist Kevin Iole of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It is good for the sport. This is a very competitive fight. Mendy has an excellent straight left hand and I think he will surprise Hanshaw a little with his power. If I had to make a prediction, I would pick Mendy because of his experience to win a decision in a tight fight.’’
Hanshaw is attempting to make up for lost time and revitalize a career  hindered by injury and lengthy layoffs. Mendy will make his fifth appearance in the United States since coming to the country to give his career a kick-start.
At 32 years of age, Mendy (23-0, 12 KOs), of  Las Vegas, by way of Mante la Jolie, France, is the oldest in the tournament. However, he recorded the quickest win with a first-round TKO over Dallas Vargas on July 28, 2006, in Las Vegas. The six-foot-one-and-one-half-inch southpaw scored a 10-round decision over previously undefeated Henry Buchanan in an Oct. 6, 2006, semi-final at  Santa Ynez, Calif.
Hanshaw (21-0, 14 KOs),of Summerlin, Nev., by way of Warren and Mansfield, Ohio, advanced to the finals with victories over Esteban Camou and LaFarrell Bunting. The six-foot, 28-year-old recorded a facile 10-round decision over Camou on Aug. 4, 2006, in Las Vegas, and a third-round knockout over Bunting on Oct. 6, 2006, in Santa Ynez.
“What more could we want than a battle of unbeatens who Steve Farhood and I handicapped to be in the finals?” asked “ShoBox” blow-by-blow announcer Nick Charles. “While Mendy and Hanshaw are prospects, the fact they are 32 and 28, respectively, should cause both to realize this is an opportunity that may not surface again. It gives this final more urgency.’’
“Mendy-Hanshaw is the final we were looking forward to from the start,” said Farhood, “ShoBox” expert analyst. “It is a fascinating fight because of the stakes and the contrasting styles. Hanshaw is a classic boxer and Mendy is an awkward, pressure-fighter from the left side. Neither is a huge puncher. Both are in peak form. I look for an intriguing match-up and a fast-paced fight.”
Possessing the kind of talent most fighters only dream of, Hanshaw had a distinguished, extensive, amateur career. Quick, strong, fast and instinctive, Hanshaw went 300-22 while performing at a premium  level for years. He was a strong contender for a spot on the 2000 United States Olympic team .
In a bout he was positive he would win, however, Hanshaw lost by one point to longtime rival Jermain Taylor in the finals of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. “If things had been different, the outcome would have been different,’’ Hanshaw said. “But I did not really care that much at that point. My head was in another place. I was not all there that night.”
On the eve of what he was convinced would be the crowning achievement of his life, Hanshaw got a phone call that would alter his universe. He was getting ready to meet his father at the gym, but his father's girlfriend called and told him he needed to get home.
“You know how you can tell by someone's voice that something is wrong, even though they do not tell you what it is?’’ Hanshaw said. “Well, that is how she sounded. I got there, and I saw my dad's friends and everyone was acting kind of strange.”
One of those friends told Hanshaw the tragic news. His father, Henry Russell, was dead. A landscaper and the person responsible for introducing him to boxing, Russell was trimming trees around an apartment building, hit a live wire and was electrocuted. He died instantly.
“I flipped out and I ran out of the house. It was just too much,” Hanshaw said. “A big part of me is gone forever.”
The fight with Taylor came two weeks after his father’s death. Still devastated, he honored his obligation, but only because he knew it was what his father, a former pro fighter who also was his coach, would have wanted.
After coming up a single point short against  Taylor, Hanshaw could have remained on the  U.S. team as an alternate, but opted to turn pro. He signed his first pro contract in May 2000, less than 10 months after his father was tragically killed.
Hanshaw made his debut for dollars on June 16, 2000. He fought nine times during the ensuing half-year, and scored one-round KOs in his first three bouts.  Hanshaw’s ring activity dropped in 2001. He had just four fights, but one of them was a 10-round decision victory over Kingsley Ikeke in July.
The noteworthy triumph over the towering Nigerian had some thinking Hanshaw might be headed straight to a title shot. But from there, his interest in the sport seemed to wane. Hanshaw’s performances looked less and less inspired, and his weight fluctuated.
In 2002, Hanshaw’s work rate diminished by 50 percent for a second consecutive year. He went to the post just twice. He advanced to 15-0 by defeating Etianne Whitaker on July 16, 2002, but then did not fight for 21 months. 
During the nearly two-year layoff, Hanshaw had surgery on his left shoulder, promotional problems, some improprieties concerning bouts with drinking and a traffic violation.
When he resumed his career in April 2004, Hanshaw fought three times in as many months. Physically, he was fine. But, he still had the same empty feeling in his stomach. He asked himself if he really wanted to fight.
“I was tired and burnt out and I did not know if I wanted to do it any more,” said Hanshaw, who took a second leave of absence from the ring, this one lasting 23 months (July 2004-June 2006). “I had a ton of amateur bouts. I lost my dad. I wasn’t there (focused) against Taylor. I trained, but I wasn't into it.”
Hanshaw spent his second stint on the sidelines relaxing with his family. “I just took time off,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with my daughter, mom and brother. I trained a little, running here and there.”
As the months passed, Hanshaw's desire began to grow. What gave him an itch to return was watching his amateur contemporaries from the class of 2000 get so some much attention.
“I am watching these guys on TV and thinking how I beat them already and they are still going at it,’’ he said. “I was not jealous, but I knew I should be up there, too. So, now, I am going through the back door. It is going to pay off in the long run. Win this tournament and I will be up there with them, too.”
In his ring return on June 17, 2006, Hanshaw  looked trim physically, performed with enthusiasm, threw a lot of punches and won a six-round decision over defensive-minded James North in Memphis.

Seven weeks later, Hanshaw outclassed the game, overmatched Camou. Using a quality jab to set up his attack, Hanshaw was too quick and way too good. He swept all rounds on the three judges' cards. “Camou was tough, but did not give me any trouble,” said Hanshaw, who nearly stopped his opponent in the seventh. “I trained hard and was in tip-top shape. It was good to get the rounds in. I was overanxious at the beginning, but, once I settled down, I felt good. There is no fighter in the tournament I cannot beat.”
Hanshaw’s hand swelled up badly, but it was not a factor against Bunting. “I went to a specialist and found it was just bruised, not broken. So, it was not on my mind,” said Hanshaw, who was landing a series of unanswered punches when the bout was stopped at 1:58.
The pain of his father's death has never lessened, but Hanshaw began to understand that the best way to honor his dad’s memory would be to capture a world title.
Winning a world championship has been Hanshaw’s dream for as long as he can remember.
“I will never let that dream die,” said Hanshaw, who will walk away with the International Boxing Organization (IBO) belt if he defeats Mendy. “We had a dream together for me to win a gold medal, and I did not do that. Our second dream was to win a world title. I can do that. I will do that.
“I am back and ready to rock ‘n roll. It is my time to shine. This is my last chance. I made a promise to my dad that I would do it. I am a man of my word, and I'm going to keep that promise. This is for him.’’
Since returning to the ring, Hanshaw has been back with the man who originally signed him out of the amateurs, promoter Gary Shaw. Training Hanshaw for his second go-around is fellow Ohioan, John Russell, best known for training Buster Douglas to a shocking upset of Mike Tyson in 1990.
Mendy is the World Boxing Association (WBA) No. 11/World Boxing Organization (WBO) No. 12 super middleweight contender. He got his first taste of fighting after playing soccer. One of eight children, Mendy became convinced that boxing was what he wanted to do after watching Sugar Ray Leonard on television.
“I was very young when I started boxing,” Mendy said. “I started by playing soccer and realized my rage for competition. I learned a lot playing in a group sport, but I realized that competing for myself was a little more in my nature. I truly realized my abilities and wanted to go further. So, I chose boxing.”
Mendy  went 102-33 in the amateurs, and competed in many international tournaments. A bronze medalist in the world and European championships, he  represented France at the 1996 Olympics Games and won the 1998 Goodwill Games.
After turning pro Dec. 22, 2000, Mendy had his initial 18 fights in France. Perhaps his toughest match came in his ninth outing when he captured the French super middleweight title with an exhausting 10-round majority decision over hard-hitting Rachid Kanfouah on Feb. 26, 2002.
Mendy got wobbled a few times by Kanfouah, who had stopped 17 foes in 19 victories, but came back punching each time. Better boxing ability and superb counter punching earned him the last two rounds and the win. Mendy won the rematch with Kanfouah 20 months later on a 10-round split nod on Nov. 14, 2003.
Despite retaining his French crown four times in  Europe, Mendy seemed to be treading water. So, with nothing opening up career-wise, he came to the U.S. Four of his past five starts have been in the U.S.
“The difference is that boxing in the  U.S. is well respected by the fans and media,” he said. “In France, pro boxing is practically non-existent. Real champions are not recognized and encouraged. In the  U.S., boxing organizations also are considerably more competent. There is no doubt the U.S. is the country for boxing. The fact that my American fans have shown me their love proves it.”
In his third stateside outing, Mendy got off to a blazing tourney start and made a statement to the rest of the field. Hitting with power and pin-point accuracy, he blitzed Vargas in 105 seconds.
Vargas came out and tried to apply pressure, but became unhinged after Mendy’s first, straight left hand landed flush on the chin. Although the outclassed Vargas did not go down, he absorbed several clean, hard shots to the head and body. He was defenseless and clearly in deep trouble when the referee stopped it.
“No way I expected to win that early, but as soon as I got the opportunity, I sped up the fighting,” Mendy said.  “When I touched Vargas in the liver and on the chin, I just kept the pressure on. I was just analyzing things in there when I nailed him. I was not surprised the referee rung the end of the fight.”
Known more as a sound technician than a banger, Mendy did what he had to do.  When he hurt Vargas, he did not let him recover. He also fought a near-perfect fight when he easily outboxed Buchanan.
 In a poised performance where he utilized his height and reach, Mendy kept the distance with his jab, counter-punched beautifully and romped by the scores 100-89 twice and 99-90.
Buchanan landed a good punch on occasion but Mendy, the stronger and more academic boxer, shook them off. “I thought Buchanan would run a lot, so I made him come and fight me,” he said.
In the eighth, Buchanan lost a point for fouling. In the same session, Mendy stuck out his tongue and mocked him. He said it was payback for Buchanan's first-round opponent, Lucas Green-Arias.
“Buchanan mocked Arias, so I thought I would do the same thing to him,” Mendy said. “He was talking a lot, but he could not back it up. I am a champion. I do my talking with my fists in the ring.”
Mendy, who is trained by Aldo Guerrier, is aware time may not be on his side, but he uses that as motivation. “Boxing is not a hobby, it is my life,” he said. “I work very hard. Whatever pressure there is, I use to encourage me. I look forward to proving I belong and showing what kind of fighter I am. “The more I fight, the better I feel, and the better I feel, the sharper and more confident I am. I have always felt I was the best fighter in the tournament.”

The ShoBox broadcast will come from the Desoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss.  Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, and Round One Entertainment will co-promote the event. Charles and Farhood will call the action from ringside. The executive producer of the telecast is Gordon Hall, with Richard Gaughan producing.

One night after “ShoBox,” America’s No. 1 Boxing Network begins its 21st year of Showtime Championship Boxing. Samuel Peter and James Toney box a rematch of their exciting fight on Sept. 2, 2006, on SHOWTIME and Jose Antonio Rivera risks his WBA super welter belt against Travis Simms.